Why do Canadians kill seals

The Canadian government released a total of 338,200 seals for killing this year, 55,000 more than last year. Specifically, 280,000 harp seals, 8,200 hooded seals and 50,000 gray seals may be killed in the hunting season, which is about to begin, according to Fisheries Minister Gail Shea. Animal rights activists spoke of a "scandalous" government decision.

The international animal welfare association "Humane Society" warned on Saturday of a drastic decimation of the seal population. "At a time when the Canadian government should protect the harp seals, they are pursuing their extermination instead," complained association boss Rebecca Aldworth. Shea said the quota was set after consultation with experts "to ensure that the seal population is preserved".

Stocks are being thinned out

"This quota is completely unacceptable," said Sheryl Fink of the International Animal Welfare Fund (IFAW), referring to the number of harp seals released for killing. There are not enough buyers for the furs, the world market is already saturated. In addition, this high number would even exceed the recommendation of the government's own scientists and severely thin out the seal population, according to Fink.

Around 70 percent of the animals released for killing are said to be hunted in the area northeast of Newfoundland and Labrador. The authorities estimate the population of seals on the Canadian east coast at around 6.4 million animals. The annual seal hunt in Canada is one of the world's largest mass kills of wild animals. Hundreds of fishermen pull rifles, clubs and boat hooks onto the pack ice and kill hundreds of thousands of harp seals and hats.

Ottawa banned commercial seal fishing in 1987, but allowed it again in 1995 subject to conditions. Shea assured that her agency staff will monitor the seal hunt to ensure that hunting restrictions are followed. If necessary, measures would also be taken to enforce the regulations, said the minister.

She announced that she would continue to campaign internationally for the continuation of the controversial seal hunt. "Our government will continue to defend the right of Canadian sealers to support their families through lawful, sustainable and humane hunting," Shea said.

Europe votes to boycott the products

At the same time, the minister expressed her disappointment with the European plans to ban the trade in seal products. Canada will carefully examine all legal and diplomatic options in this regard. At the beginning of the month, the EU Parliament's Internal Market Committee voted in favor of a Europe-wide import and trade ban because of the "inhuman" methods used in hunting. Products such as hides, oils or meat from animals would be affected.

Russia significantly expanded its ban on hunting baby seals in the White Sea last Wednesday. Environment Minister Yuri Trutnev said that the hunting ban will protect harp seals up to the age of one with immediate effect. At the end of February, Russia initially only banned the hunting of baby seals in the first few weeks after birth. "How ironic that just two days after Russia announced the end of the seal hunt, Canada is now condemning a third of its baby seals to a cruel and unnecessary death," commented IFAW animal rights activist Fink. "Our government insists on getting us stuck in the dark ages".